Question: How do you cope with sorting out work life and social life without one overpowering?
Heather Walton answered on 9 Jul 2020:
Great question to ask, I think we all need to remember that scientists are humans!
I think the answer is you try, and if it doesn’t work try again.
In terms of specific actions, throughout uni I made sure I joined clubs and societies to spend time with people, and having friends on my course and in the labs I worked in was also very important because it means I could kind of socialise and do work at the same time. If you are feeling overpowered by work then it’s important to have a rest, and if that doesn’t feel possible then you need to speak to a supervisor or even a friend to get help, any good boss will understand that people need time off and should help you to reorganise your work so you can balance it with life. If you are overpowered by social events then I think it’s pretty much the same, you need to remember that your friends will understand you are human and can’t do everything, you just have to talk to them!
Tiffany Chan answered on 9 Jul 2020:
Great question! Work life balance is really important. In my job, I can work very flexible hours, but I try to stick to ‘normal’ working hours (ie 9 AM-5PM) so that I have time to do other non-work things.
Kat Hunter answered on 10 Jul 2020:
In most jobs you sign a contract for the number of hours you agree to do in return for your salary. The standard working week is around 37hrs. some jobs may have strict start and end time so that makes it easy. if it’s flexible start and end time then it can get more tricky. You have to decide what’s best for you – are you are morning person and would prefer to get to work earlier – or if you prefer doing something before work/sleeping later etc. So this is the start – maybe sometimes you will stay late to finish work but then sometimes you may need to leave early for some reason to so it should always balance out. I am the same as Heather – I have always had hockey club and social plans with friends most evenings so it makes it easy to end your working day at the right time.
Fred Mosselmans answered on 10 Jul 2020:
That’s a really good question. In my job, i have worked many weekends (or parts of them) at the lab as my facility runs seven days a week and often 10 hr days, however my separation rule is to try to do no work for my company at home, so when i leave the lab i have left work. the only exception to this is some external reviewing of journal papers and proposals for research. In this way i try to separate work from home life . It works OK most of the time, and even now when i am working at home 90% of the time, i try not to answer anything on my email to do with work until i am back at my home desk the next day, so if i have turned off my computer for the evening , i have left work.
Rachael Hallam answered on 10 Jul 2020:
Modern flexible working is a great help with this. My hobby is playing badminton and I always make sure that I plan my work so that I can leave on time on days where I am playing.
Andy Kowalski answered on 10 Jul 2020:
This is a good question as when I still worked and more in later stages of my life, work life balance was a challenge as sometimes had to do work at home after dinner as demand exceeded supply in terms of what one had to do to keep operational processes going.
In 2005 we had a Technician go off sick during summer months while Masters degree students labs were still running so got puled from my job and asked to take over as a lab manager. Time was short as end of August was going on holiday so had to plan ahead asign tasks to support staff and post grads who were working in my team and manage the project to completion and also leave jobs to be done in my absence. This also impacted seriously on home life as was doing another 3 hours work from home every weekday night so was not getting much rest until weekend.
Nontheless all was completed on time and new batch of undergrads started in October but it meant putting needs of department before own!
Now that i work for myself I can decide what I do and when and work life balance is so much better and also healthier for it as can take breaks from screen when I want to and also attend networking events as and when .
My health is so much better as a result and not stressed.
Katherine Haxton answered on 10 Jul 2020:
You need to decide what is important to you personally. Some people want to have a job and a career that is the most important thing in their lives and spend a lot of time on it. Other people want a job that gives them enough money to live comfortably but that allows them plenty time to do other stuff. Most people are somewhere in between.
At work it’s really important to work smart and make the most of the time spent there to get stuff done. Some managers are really supportive of flexible working arrangements where you can compress your working week into 4 days instead of 5, or have shorter lunch breaks to take a half day off on a Friday. Those can really help balance work life and home life. You also don’t have to work full time. I work 4 days a week in my job and I really like having a three day weekend.
Your social life is really important because it’s probably what makes you, you! But keep it in the non-work time because it’s disrespectful to your boss if you don’t.
Aisling Ryan answered on 14 Jul 2020:
That’s a great question! And to be honest I think it’s impossible to have a perfect 50:50 balance. I find I tend to do a 70:30 balance that flips between the two depending on how my life is going! If work is really busy then I will focus more on work and less on social events. If work is calm then I will take advantage and organise more social outings during this time. For the last while work has been crazy so I’ve had a lot less time for social events, but just because I can’t put an entire weekend aside doesn’t mean I have to cut myself off from everyone. I just slot in what I can when I can. For example I will meet one of my friends for a coffee during my lunch break, or meet another friend for dinner in the evening time. Or have a chat with another friend for 20 mins if I bump into them in the hallway or the gym. If you need to compromise just try and incorporate social time into your daily activities like eating, taking breaks, and exercise 🙂